Lyoto Machida is not Michael Bisping, which is something that Mark Munoz understood intellectually as one morphed into the other last October. Bisping was supposed to be Munoz’s opponent at UFC Fight Night 30 (a fight many felt favored Munoz), but when an eye injury forced Bisping out in late September, Machida was summonsed to make his middleweight debut.
That fight, it was universally agreed from a stylistic standpoint, didn’t exactly favor Munoz. But, hey…nature of the fight game to deal with changes as they come.
And if there is ever a look-the-other-way defeat, Munoz’s loss at the hands of the sparse-striking Machida last October qualifies. Machida downed his one-time training partner with a head kick that Munoz tried to block with his arm (didn’t work). It wasn’t Munoz’s best showing, but it was a tough, makeshift situation to be thrust into, and therefore it doesn’t drop him too far down the chute in the middleweight division.
"Yeah, I have a sense that my next fight’s going to be somebody within that range of top guys in the rankings," Munoz told MMA Fighting. "I’m ready man. Obviously I was training for a guy like Michael Bisping, and I got Lyoto, and although I did train with Lyoto, it was a lot of ground. A lot of grappling type stuff. Obviously it was very, very different than Bisping. It just doesn’t sit well with me. Any loss doesn’t sit well. But hey man, that’s what competing is all about, and you’ve got to move forward. I’ll do that, and strive to do better."
The queue to fight Bisping is beginning to snake around the block. At the head of the line is Tim Kennedy, who has been lobbying for the fight via Twitter ("I want to stab him in the heart with a unicorn’s horn," he has said) and every other platform. Kennedy was supposed to fight Machida at the Fight for the Troops card in November, but was plucked from that to fight Munoz. The revamping of bouts has led all parties, one way or another, into a desire to fight Bisping.
"I’ve always wanted Michael Bisping, not because I have any personal issues or beef with him, but he’s always been at the top," Munoz says. "We were supposed to fight, and I know Kennedy has been calling him out and wants to fight him, but I feel we’ve got unfinished business to take care of. I think he’s been a top, perennial contender for a long time, and a win over him would definitely get me back in the mix. So, he’s there. But really, I’d fight anybody in the top ten. For me, I’m a competitor. I want to get to that top. I want that title shot."
As a Filipino fighter who has long been hopeful of a UFC card in Manila, Munoz is using his off time to aid victims of Typhoon Haiyan -- a category five super typhoon that devastated the Philippines on November 8, just two weeks after his fight with Machida. Haiyan was the deadliest storm on record to hit the island, leaving more than 6,000 people dead, and another 2,000 unaccounted for. Two months later, bodies are still be recovered.
Munoz, whose family in Manila wasn’t directly affected by the storm, is attempting to raise money to help out.
"When the storm hit, right away I was just like, man, I’ve got to help out some way," Munoz says. "I called up my sister and said we’ve got to do something. I said I want to do a seminar, with the proceeds going to relief. And so she was like, okay, we’ve got to make sure we have the right venue. One popped up at Treasure Island in the Bay Area, which is where I grew up, and an area I know and I’m popular in."
The seminars will go down on Saturday, Jan. 11, 9 a.m.-11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. PT, at Treasure Island Event Venue (401 California Avenue, Treasure Island, Calif.).
"The fundraiser is going to be a two-part seminar," he says. "One being MMA, which is $80, and the second seminar being wrestling ($40). Basically I’ll be teaching, and all the proceeds will go to the relief in the Philippines. I’ll have a t-shirt available, and stuff there to auction off, and we’ll have a lot of things available to see what’s gone on in the Philippines. And people can donate however they want to donate. If you want to just come and watch and take it all in, that’s fine too. It’s open to the public."
And though Munoz doesn’t yet know who his next opponent is, he is still hopeful that he’ll appear on a Manila UFC card in the near future. The UFC has flirted with the idea of bringing the Octagon to the Philippines for the last couple of years, but Munoz believes it’ll be sooner rather than later.
"I believe [the UFC] is in negotiations as we speak about the Philippines," he says. "There’s something coming about real soon with that. Obviously I don’t know all the details, but I know they are in talks and negotiations. I’m excited about that, and I definitely want to represent the Philippines, and that’s why I continue to train.
"After I got home from the Machida fight, I’ve been training. I’m ready. I want to get back in there. I’m staying ready, so that even if somebody gets hurt I want to jump in there."